- Seth Landman, Fantasy Basketball
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With most teams having 10 or fewer games left to play in the 2011-12 NBA season, it truly is time to get desperate if you have a chance to make a move up the standings in your fantasy league. Time is running out, and you have little to lose dropping a mediocre player for one who has a chance at being special these last few weeks. With that in mind, here are some players who have a good chance at getting (or staying) hot down the stretch.
Greivis Vasquez, PG, New Orleans Hornets: Despite him being available in over half of ESPN.com fantasy leagues at the moment (he was added in quite a few over the past day), Vasquez has been a top-20 player on the Player Rater over the past week with Jarrett Jack out of the lineup. Jack will likely miss the rest of the season with a stress fracture in his right foot, and Vasquez lit up the Los Angeles Lakers for 18 points (including five 3-pointers) and 11 assists on Monday night to bring his averages over the past five games to 11.8 points and 7.6 assists in 31.6 minutes of playing time. Actually, in 18 games as a starter this season, he's averaging 12.1 points and 6.8 assists, so his recent success is no fluke. If you're looking to make a move in the assists category, there's no one else on the waiver wire with his potential, which makes him worth a shot in most leagues.
Lester Hudson, SG, Cleveland Cavaliers: Hudson has made the most of his latest NBA opportunity and has been taking over games for the Cavs off the bench over the past week. On Tuesday, he played 36 minutes off the bench and put up 25 points, eight rebounds and six assists, and he's averaging 24.6 points, 5.3 assists, 4.7 rebounds, 2.0 steals and 2.7 3s over his past three games (all off the bench). Yes, Kyrie Irving may return soon, but the Cavs might also choose to be cautious with their star rookie and take the opportunity to see what they have in Hudson. In any case, he's providing monster all-around production lately and is certainly worth a look if you need guard help.
Shannon Brown, SG, Phoenix Suns: With Grant Hill out indefinitely, Brown has been putting up some big numbers of late out of the Suns' starting lineup. Always a willing shooter, Brown has been getting plenty of opportunities, averaging 16.4 points on 15.6 shot attempts over his past five games. As such, his field goal percentage numbers are nothing to write home about, but production is production, and Brown is averaging 2.0 3s, 5.4 rebounds and 2.8 assists over that same five-game stretch. He's a good bet to keep putting up similar numbers for the rest of the season, so if you need help in 3s and want a guard who rebounds, he's worth a look.
Michael Redd, SG, Phoenix Suns: Redd is not as good an overall fantasy option as Brown, but as long as Hill is out, Redd might be a useful player in certain situations. Amazingly, he's getting up 14.0 shots per game in just 20.2 minutes over his past five games, which is a pretty ridiculous ratio for a guy who had played well under a full season's worth of games combined over the past three years. Redd, at this stage, is just going to get you points and 3s, but as a career 38 percent shooter from long range, he has an excellent chance of staying hot as the Suns finish out the season. There's no reason to add him unless you're desperate for 3s, but if you are he's a good get for now.
Charles Jenkins, PG, Golden State Warriors: Jenkins has certainly had his ups and downs of late, but he's been a top-100 guy on the Player Rater over the past 15 days, and most of that value is coming from his ability to rack up assists. With Stephen Curry out indefinitely (and the Warriors all too happy to risk losing games by giving inexperienced players extended playing time), Jenkins has been playing 25.8 minutes per game so far in April and is averaging 5.8 assists per game as a result. That's one of the best ratios in the league over that period of time, and it'd be hard to find anyone better on the waiver wire (save Greivis Vasquez, who is also on this list). Jenkins doesn't score much, but he's shooting 51 percent from the floor on the month as well, so at least he won't hurt you there, and the 1.2 steals per game are a nice bonus. In deep leagues especially, he's definitely worth a roster spot.
Jan Vesely, SF, Washington Wizards: I'm really reaching here, but if you're looking to take a big risk on a guy who could have a lot of value, Vesely is worth a look. Trevor Booker,Nene, Andray Blatche and Rashard Lewis are all out indefinitely for the Wizards, and those injuries have allowed Vesely to work his way into the starting lineup. Mostly, he's just playing a lot of minutes and not doing a whole lot else; he's averaging just 7.6 points and 6.6 rebounds in 29.2 minutes over his past five games, and while that's a decent total in the rebounds category, most of his performances haven't exactly been fantasy-worthy. On the other hand, he's a rookie with a ton of talent, and his 11 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks against the Bobcats on Monday were a look at the kind of numbers he's capable of if he starts figuring things out over the next couple weeks. The Wizards are going to want to give him as many chances as they can, so his minutes should stay steady, and he's capable of helping you a lot in rebounds and blocks if he can string together a few decent performances. If you have any dead weight on your roster, wouldn't you rather take a flier on Vesely?
Courtney Lee, SG, Houston Rockets: Kevin Martin, as usual, is injured, and that means Lee is playing a ton of minutes lately, and he's been pretty productive when he's been out there as well. He's averaging 16.0 points, 1.8 3s, 1.6 steals, 3.0 assist, and 50 percent shooting from the floor over his past five games, and it's worth pointing out that only two of the Rockets' final nine games come against teams in the top half of the league in defensive efficiency. If he can come close to averaging those numbers for the rest of the season, he'll be a huge factor in lots of fantasy leagues, and right now he's widely available for some reason. Pick him up while you still can.
Seth Landman suggests a handful of players who are coming on late that aren't owned in many ESPN leagues.